Partner spends too much or too little? Lessons for modern female breadwinners

Female breadwinner and spendingMarketplace.com recently looked at ‘Being the breadwinner: A blessing and a curse’. In it, Mackenzie Dawson and I discussed how to react if your male partner spends too little or too much. This is a conundrum made even trickier when you add in gender politics. I’ve coached a banking executive whose lower earning husband didn’t feel he deserved the villa holidays she wanted for them. He insisted they go camping instead. Their compromise? One luxury and one camping holiday a year, that they both paid for respectively.

Equally, I’ve worked with female clients who felt their other halves were a bit too self-indulgent with yet another set of golf clubs, studio recording equipment or lavish nights out with the boys. Have an ongoing and honest dialogue with your partner; people are fluid so continually checking in that it still works well for both of you is vital.

Dawson asked me for my top tips for dealing with partners who spend too much or too little:

  • Lower earning partners may question if they should be spending your earnings. Some will feel reticent to spend it since they haven’t technically earned it through their own paid labour – spending ‘her’ money can be a threat to their masculinity. A great way to change their attitude is to ask how they would feel about you spending their money if they were the main earner? “Often men can see the double standard they are imposing on themselves when they realize they would be happy to provide for her.”

  • On the other hand, potential tensions arise if they are a bit too free with the cash; talk about your joint goals as a family. Ask him about his ideas for the 2 or 3 big goals you have for the year. You each pick a goal plus (new bedroom furniture or a golf trip with the boys) a third you jointly pick, such as a family holiday to Greece. Determine a limit on how much you’ll spend on each goal. Then when decisions over cash come up; ask how spending that money gets you closer or further away from that goal.

Why more successful start-ups are led by women

successful start upIn working with successful career women, we often work with entrepreneurs. In fact, in some of the recent executive leadership coaching workshops I have conducted; almost half the attendees were entrepreneurs, an inconceivable ratio even 10 years ago. We see women’s entrepreneurship as a direct response to feeling overlooked and frustrated in the corporate sector. The problem for their former employers is that when middle and senior management women leave, they take hard-earned knowledge, contacts and ambition with them. Now research shows that when they do go, their new businesses are the real winners.

In fact, a survey late last year by Dow Jones VentureSource, on female executives in start ups found new companies have a better chance of going public, operating profitably or being sold for a net gain if they have women founders or board members. After analysing more than 15 years of venture-backed company data in the United States, the survey discovered the overall median proportion of female executives is 7.1% at successful companies and 3.1% at unsuccessful companies. Also, for start-ups with five or more females, 61% were successful and only 39% failed. This clearly demonstrates the value having more females can potentially bring to a management team.

In an article on Modern start-ups are suited to women, Luke Johnson wrote in the Financial Times, “Diversity in general makes organisations more resilient. Many businesses fall apart thanks to testosterone-fuelled disputes and founders overreaching thanks to rushes of hubris that tend to afflict men more often. Women are well-placed to curb such excess, and keep a project on course with more thoughtful management policies.”

Apart from the benefits they bring start-ups, women also gain from running the show. In other research, women cite flexibility as one of the key reasons they set up on their own. Women can also be more risk-averse than their male counterparts and less willing to sacrifice family life for the business. Neither of these traits are a negative: over-ambition and burnout are prime causes of bankruptcy and commercial failure.

At Female Breadwinners, we wholeheartedly applaud and are proud to be part of this new shift. Diversity of leadership styles brings better overall management and sustainable growth to start-ups, which is great news for both men and women.

Want to know the secret to a better marriage and good sex life?

MP900446473We’re always on the look out for ways to inspire men to see the benefits of pairing with a female breadwinner and join the campaign for gender equality. Today a savvy Scottish female breadwinner sent us the article in The Evening Standard: ‘Lower-earning men ‘better in bedroom’. A UK survey of 1,010 married couples found over half of the men who earned less than their spouses described their love lives as ‘hot’ or ‘very good’. We just had to share this with our forward thinking readers!

The survey by Time’s Money Magazine, ‘Love and Money, By The Numbers’ found:

  • 90% of lesser earning husbands reported ‘happy’ marriages compared to 75% of men whose wives earned less.
  • 56% of lesser earning husbands reported ‘good sex lives’ compared to 44% of men whose wives earned less.
  • Female breadwinners looked after the home finances: 76% of these women paid the bills, compared to 49% of women who earned less than their husbands.

So, is the secret to a better marriage and a good sex life to marry a female breadwinner?

We at Female Breadwinners don’t advocate men quit their jobs to improve their sex lives. However it is certainly another pleasurable reason for men to advocate for greater gender pay equity.

 

In Defence of the the Career ‘Queen Bee’

Two Young Women in Front of the Computer TalkingOne of the most frequent complaints I hear from audiences of young women is that the senior women above them don’t mentor or support them enough.  While I understand their frustration at climbing the ladder in male dominated fields, when questioned they admit that not every male boss they ever had was supportive. While I wish we lived in a world where every senior woman offered more support to every junior women, the truth is: there is just not that many senior women to go around for every woman who’d like help and of those who are great mentors. These women are busy; speaking at Women’s Networks, being wheeled out at diversity events in addition to the day job of competing with their male colleagues. Plus, the more they advocate for junior women, the more it draws attention to their ‘otherness’ – something they have usually worked their whole career to help the men look past.

At Female Breadwinners, we think we simply expect these women to be more nurturing, more helpful – perfect advocates and mentors. Our standards are much higher than what we expect in male leaders. A Washington Post article on ‘Queen Bee’ CEOs get scrutiny and flak while ‘king wasps’ get a free pass, commented, “If they [female executives] are too tough, too masculine, they’re Queen Bees. If they’re too soft, too feminine, they’re ineffective leaders. Deemed either likable or competent, they’re rarely judged “just right.”

Women in leadership deal with these double standard by often going to different extremes. Some turn into ‘Queen Bees’ – women who have sacrificed to get where they are, worked harder than any man and expect aspiring others to do the same. If they display little sympathy for flexible working or full maternity leave, for example, they aren’t deemed to be ‘realistic role models’. I routinely hear younger women harshly judge senior women as not having the kind of lives they aspire to. This may be very true, but they rarely speak ill of male bosses who display the same inflexibility in their attitudes. Men are often ‘forgiven’ for these attitudes, as it’s too often what we have come to expect. On the other had, we unfairly ‘expect’ women to be better than that. But the double bind means these women can’t easily be both tough and soft in the same environment.

At Female Breadwinners, we work with companies companies to manage these perceptions by increasing the number of women in leadership roles. The more women become normalized in positions of power, the more likely society is to accept them on their own terms.

3 of the Best Television Dramas for Female Breadwinners

BORGEN_S3_AMAZON_SLATE._V367748629_SX385_SY342_With the dawn of the box-set and the ubiquity of on-demand services, it seems our choices for great television have never been better. We thought we’d share 3 of the best dramas for female breadwinners; those that feature interesting, flawed, but passionate working women. This is television so they may be more glamorous than us mere mortals, but we love that these women are pragmatic, enjoy their work and aren’t afraid of power. So when you have a bit of rare down time, we’d recommend:

Borgen: A top series from the land of The Killing, featuring a fictional female Danish prime minister. Each episode features heroine Birgitte Nyborg making tough choices and negotiating  politics aiming to keep her family and sense of integrity intact. No tough challenge then? We love the way a tough social challenge is tackled in each episode; from offering aid to dictators in Africa to banning prostitution in an effort to curb trafficking – finding that each issue is far less straightforward than we’d like to believe. Our only disappointment? The show is now off the air and not even available on BBC iPlayer so it’s a box-set investment if you want to catch up – but its well worth the investment.

The Bridge: We love the Bridge for the way it challenges social conventions as to what a female heroine should be. Saga Noren is a near autistic copper with a weakness for leather trousers and one night stands. Her meticulous and considered approach to crime-solving is a great foil for her male partner; a seemingly family man who the fantastic ‘soft skills’ of reading and communicating with people we’ve come to associate primarily with female characters. A crime drama that goes beyond ‘the usual suspects’.

Scandal: An American import, this series, features Olivia Pope, a Washington ‘fixer’ – the person who cleans up the highly sensitive problems of politicians whilst herself having an affair with the President of the US. While this one has more of a soap opera feel than our other two recommendations, we love Scandal for putting a African American actress as the female lead. What’s even better is that her race is not a main issue; she’s just a strong woman leading a great team, who happens to be black. Female Breadwinners were disappointed that Kerry Washington was pipped to the post for an Emmy this past year, her win would have made her the first black female lead to win the award ever. But there’s always next year…

‘Women economists are cheaper than men’ – Alan Greenspan

equalpay-final_2There have always been canny employers who understand women are an undervalued talent, and subsequently value for money. Alan Greenspan, an American economist, in the 1980s employed mostly female senior staff, and stated:

“I always valued men and women equally, and I found that because others did not, good women economists were cheaper than men. Hiring women does two things: It gives us better-quality work for less money, and it raises the market value of women.’’

As Tuesday 8th April saw the 19th Equal Pay Day. This public awareness event was established in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE). Tuesday is symbolic of how far into the week a women must work in order to earn the same as her male colleague earned the previous week. It is disappointing that this is still the case today. The intransigent gender pay gap is still an issue and the fact that, in general, women’s pay is lower, does mean they’re a better deal for employers.

It is an unfortunate truism that women will often work for less money than men. TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It is a huge injustice that women are still earning on average almost £5,000 a year less than men. This pay gap can add up to hundreds of thousands over the course of a woman’s career”.

The debate around gender diversity is not new but what is new, is the shift in impetus from discussion about the fairness and equality, to the fact that employing women can led to improved performance for organisations.

Numerous studies show that companies can increase profitability from improving the balance of women in their workforce, particularly at the senior levels. Papers such as “Innovation By Design: The Case for Investing in Women” summarise that companies would see advantages to employing women across the board and adopting diverse team dynamics. Advantages such as enhancing organisational performance and the companies reputation; increased innovation and new opportunities to capitalise on exceptional talent.

Taking all this into account, it is true, hiring women can boost the bottom line — they’re cheaper, but more importantly, they will make you money!

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